“It is indeed a proud moment to cherish that the 44th Chess Olympiad organised by FIDE is being held in Chennai, India,” observed the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, while directing the State government to ensure that the photographs of the President and the Prime Minister are published in all advertisements (print/electronic media) related to the Chess Olympiad.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice S. Ananthi said the State government should ensure that whenever any international event is hosted in the State, the directive issued by the Supreme Court is followed by including the names of the dignitaries. The court was hearing a petition filed by R. Rajesh Kumar of Sivaganga district, who said only the Chief Minister’s photograph was used in the advertisements/promotional material.
He said the photographs of the Prime Minister and the President should have also been published for the international event in Chennai. The advertisements were published using public money, and the authorities should apologise to the public for not having complied with the judgment of the apex court by not having published the photographs of the President and the Prime Minister.
“We would like to say that the interest of the nation should be of paramount importance in the mind of every citizen. International events depict the image of the country in the international fora. It not only shows the development of the country, but its capability to organise an international event at such short notice. Keeping the aforesaid object in mind, every government should work, including the State Government,” the judges said.
“When our country is hosting such an international event, it is the bounden duty of one and all to ensure that such a function is organised efficiently and we leave an indelible mark at the international level. It is more so when our country is known for its hospitality and efficiency. Thus, the image of the nation should be of foremost concern to everyone and such representation, obviously, would be under the aegis of the President and Prime Minister of India, apart from the Chief Minister of the State where the tournament is hosted.”
The authorities were required to remain vigilant in implementing the directions of the apex court while publishing advertisements to promote the event, the judges said.
During the course of the hearing, the State government submitted that when the groundwork for organising and advertising the event was under way, the Presidential election had not yet concluded. Therefore, the photograph of the President was not published. With regard to the non-publication of the photograph of the Prime Minister, the State submitted that the consent to inaugurate the function was given on July 22. Pursuant to the consent, the photographs of the Prime Minister were being published.
The court said these reasons could not be accepted. The advertisements were issued without the photograph of the President even after the result of the Presidential election was declared. The photograph of the Prime Minister was required to be published even if he could not have inaugurated the event. What had to be noted here was that in spite of the Parliament session, the Prime Minister decided to inaugurate the function, considering the significance of the event at the international level, it said.
The judges said that considering the national interest and the directives of the apex court, it should be ensured that irrespective of whether dignitaries like the President or the Prime Minister accept the invitation for an international event, the advertisements should contain their photographs, inasmuch as they represent the country at the international level.
Considering that a prayer had been made to direct the State government to apologise to the public, inasmuch as public money was utilised for advertising the international event, the judges observed, “We find realisation of the mistake by the organisers and the best way to seek apology is to respect the sentiments of the public and make the international event a grand success by leaving an indelible mark of our nation at the international level.”
The court made it clear that the district administrations should ensure that no damage or destruction is caused to any of the advertisements containing the photographs of the President and the Prime Minister, apart from the Chief Minister. If any such activities are reported, strict action should be taken against such people, the judges observed, and disposed of the petition.